By Darla McCammon
Perhaps the following quote by John Sloan best exemplifies most of the artists who proudly accepted the mantle of being an “Ashcan” artist.
He said, “Though a living cannot be made at art, art makes life worth living. It makes living, living. It makes starving, living. It makes worry, it makes trouble, it makes a life that would be barren of everything-living. It brings life to life.”
Sloan was one of many artists who were disillusioned with the restrictive art exhibits of their day along with a dislike of the work and exhibits of the expressionists of Paris, France, the United States, and anywhere it was celebrated as art. Most of the artists in Sloan’s group clung to Social Realism schools of thought by painting vigorously, real-life subjects, who lived and worked and died in the poverty-ridden boroughs of New York City.
Sloan’s mother came from a wealthy family but his father was only modestly successful in business. Both parents, however, encouraged him in his talent for art. Sloan was born on August 2, 1871, in Lock Haven, PA. He left school at age 16 to help earn money for his family. His first jobs were as an illustrator for posters, newspapers, and magazines. Later he became noted for his clever puzzle art that came out each week beginning in 1899 in the Philadelphia Press weekend edition. .(see photo provided of Snake Charmer or Flute Player) Can you find both images he created within the one drawing? Sloan was unusual in having great success as a mostly self-taught artist
His work on puzzles, like the Snake Charmer, enabled him to broaden his expertise in art. His fantasy and imagination knew no bounds and he took the reader with him into his vivid puzzle portrayals. His work continued to grow and improve.
Sloan became known for his non-judgmental, realistic, portrayals of life in urban, back-alley, New York. He was a founding member of a group called “the eight” which was absorbed later into the Ashcan school as it grew in size. Sloan resented the juried exhibits in which they only admitted what was considered high society acceptable work in their exhibitions. He formed a more open organization and served as President from 1917 to 1944 except for the first year. It was called the Society of Independent Artists
Although the impressionists had a great impact, it was John Sloan and his Ashcan Artists who made significant inroads in bringing their American Art to the attention of the world, earning them not only national but also international recognition.
If possible, take the time this week to search for John Sloan Ashcan Artist and take a look at his many wonderful paintings. You will see the influence of his wife Dolly, who had worked in a brothel, in his treatment of his subjects. His rooftop scenes, The Haymarket, The Hairdresser’s Window, all pull us into the activity without censure or judgment. A dedicated artist, he spent hours scouring the streets for a scene he wanted to save. You will be glad he put out this effort when you see the results.
Stay with us as we journey through the lives of the many interesting artists who became known as the “Ashcan School.”
UPCOMING EVENTS: Visit Lakeland Art Association at 302 Winona Ave, Warsaw, open Wed-Sat from 11:30 a.m. -4:30 p.m. to view competitive work in the recent exhibit. Through August 1st. Also visit Whitko Art Gallery 130 N. First St. in Pierceton this week to view their recent exhibition. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Lastly, the Warsaw City Hall Art Gallery will be reopening soon with an exhibit by Christi Ziebarth. More details on this in the future. Contact me at [email protected].